Brakes and Free Mounting ?

I’ve been learning to free mount a 29" and have decided that I must do this before I learn anything more. I don’t have brakes on it currently, but I am wondering if using a brake to lock up the wheel for just a sec while mounting would work far better at least for starters. I see some people hold the wheel, which is practically the same as applying brakes, but at least with brakes one could mount up into a riding posture, rather than be hunched over holding the wheel.

I’ve been searching the threads, and have not really found an opinion on this topic… Please share if anyone has thoughts or experience on this.

Eventually I will be getting brakes for my Muni, because I intend to ride for distance on trails and for commuting. But if brakes can make my free mounting efforts more fruitful, I’ll just upgrade my Muni now…

I’ve never had brakes on any of my unis but it does sound like it could make things easier for newer riders. My only worry is that it could form a bad habit, making mounting more difficult in the future, without the brake.

Not that that couldn’t be changed with a day or two of practice :wink:

When mounting the uni in a technical steep downhill section while applying the brakes I usually dismount immediately because you can’t find the balance point when the wheel can’t move. In addition to that you loose balance when you relieve the brake and the wheel starts moving suddenly.

When you hold the wheel with your hand you do not prevent it from moving completely.

There was a very similar thread a while back. At that time nobody really had first hand experience using a brake to freemount, and the consensus was that it might work, but probably wouldn’t help much.

After that thread I tried to use my brake to help mount, and found it to be more difficult. I was already freemounting with a rollback, and the brake made the uni feel too static. When I jump mount I like to hit the pedals with my weight forward so that I immediately start rolling, again a brake would trip me up.

A lot of people seem to like learning freemounts by placing the back of the wheel against a curb. I keeps the wheel locked when putting the back foot on but not when you start to pedal.

My small experience with a brake has been similar to From the Wood’s. The moment you step on the front pedal you want to start moving to control balance and the brake has to be released so quickly that it requires just as much commitment as a freemount but also extra thought. I don’t think many riders would find it easier to learn with a brake, but some people are abnormal.:stuck_out_tongue:

I think what the others is saying is totally true, the beauty of the free mount is in the various degrees of roll back used depending on the slope and surface you are riding on.

For instance, uphill, I have a decent amount of roll back on my Muni’s and even more on my 36-er with 125mm cranks.

On flat ground, much less. I have tried free mounting with my brake on really steep trails and it works OK.

When you place the wheel against a curb it keeps the wheel from moving but still allows the frame and seat assembly to rotate around the wheel. This rotation is part of the mounting motion. On the other hand, locking the brake will keep the frame (and seat) from moving relative to the wheel and change the feel of the mounting action.

I played with holding the brake on a mount a few times and could not get it to work for me.


I have tried this in the past when getting used to freemounting a bigger wheel than I had before. With the same reasoning: it’s like gripping the wheel but without the hunched posture. Like the others who have responded here, I found it made it definitely more difficult.

One reason is mentioned already: it makes the unicycle “dead”, you can’t feel the balance point.

The other reason was alluded to when someone said that the wheel can’t roll back, which is part of the mounting process, and when someone else said that the frame cannot pivot around the axle. The way I see it, the unicycle (with a brake applied) pivots around a virtual point which is even below the riding surface. To me that means that you have to mount as if the unicycle is MUCH higher than it actually is.

Scott tocs is on the track.

The curb means that you do not have to worry about the wheel going too far back. Without it, you err on the side of NOT going back far enough, so reducing your chance of getting it right.

However I find that using a curb puts you not quite in the right place. You are too high and, likely, not the right distance back.

So, do the curb thing, but use a block of wood or a brick paver instead. You will then be doing it from the same position as you will eventually be doing it without the block.

In my experience of myself, my daughter and many I have helped who were stuck on freemounts, they will manage freemounting within, say, half hour of introducing the brick. And if you don’t manage in this time frame, it will stil not be far off.

I forgot about that aspect of it, which explains the precise problem.

Thanks everyone for the replies, I appreciate it. You all sold me, I’m going to hold off on the brakes a while, and try the curb idea which I’ve known little about prior to now. I agree that the block under the wheel seems best, as my standing hight will be consistent with my goal. Thanks Again!

But the point of this approach is to make the freemount easier, otherwise you wouldn’t need a curb or block at all. Curb mount is easier than block mount, so maybe the perfect progression is from curb to block to nothing.

I´ve briefly tried using the brake for mounting but found it only made things more difficult. I did spend quite a long time using curbs or conveniently placed (largish) rocks to mount when riding around town as a unicycling-newbie. I didn´t go for all out MUni until I could freemount successfully more than 50% of the time.

I found the curb mount very useful to aid in my learning to ride as it removed the problem of the wheel wanting to move away when mounting, without adding any other forms of support which would have to be unlearned later. I skipped the “riding along a wall”-stage, but did use a lot of signposts to help steady myself when mounting. After a little while I rarely needed anything else than a curb to mount. Freemounting took a little longer to learn, but only because it was too convenient to use a curb in an urban environment… :roll_eyes:

The common problem is that the wheel goes to the rear and out more times that not. The response then is to ease up on the rear ward movement to the point that (again more times than not) the learner now has to attempt the rest of the move with the wheel in the wrong place.

The brick does indeed make it easier - by removing the temptation of stopping the rearward motion too early. It works. As does the curb in fact.

In the context of the original post, it is highly likely that this solution is what is needed. If a curb proves to be even easier, it is most likely because the rider has the seat set too high. Either will give progress.

Yo Mike! How has it gone? You can’t just do it and then not let us know.

Have you nailed the freemount?